Wreaths across Horton Cemetery

Published 8:57 pm Saturday, December 6, 2014

It might seem odd to think of a cemetery as one of a community’s greatest assets, but in the case of the Albert G. Horton Jr. Memorial Veterans Cemetery, the accolade is well deserved.

Suffolk is honored to be the final resting place for thousands of veterans from this city and from all over Virginia. The Horton Veterans Cemetery is hallowed ground, where families and friends can go to show their respect for men and women who have served in this nation’s military during times of war and peace.

It’s also a place where people can go to get a sense of the sacrifices made by veterans and their families to keep America free. An hour spent walking among and studying the grave markers there presents lessons in history, brotherhood, patriotism and love that could scarcely be learned in a classroom.

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One of the great ways people from this area honor those resting at Horton is through the annual Wreaths Across America event, through which evergreen wreaths are placed on each of the graves and in front of each columbarium throughout the cemetery. Similar events are held at veterans’ cemeteries around the nation in December. The scenes left behind are beautiful and moving, and many of the families whose loved ones are thus honored are moved beyond words by the display and by the contributions that make it possible each year.

The Wreaths Across America organization describes its mission in three words: Remember, Honor, Teach. Each year on a specified Saturday in December — this year on Dec. 13 — thousands of volunteers around the nation head out to Arlington National Cemetery and veterans’ cemeteries in all 50 states to accomplish that mission.

There’s still time for you to get involved. Local organizers will be laying about 6,000 wreaths on Saturday, and they can use all the help they can get. The wreath-laying will start at about 9:30 a.m., with a formal ceremony at the end. And even though the wreaths already have been purchased for this year’s ceremony, funds are collected all year to pay for the ever-growing number of wreaths necessary to ensure that every veteran is honored.

You can mail donations to Horton Wreath Society Treasurer at P.O. Box 6246, Virginia Beach, VA 23456-0246, and for more information about how to participate, visit www.hortonwreathsociety.webs.com. Or you can just show up and offer to help. It’s guaranteed to be a moving experience.